Reblog: 12 Marks of Excellent Pastoral Ministry

John MacArthur has had a long, faithful, fruitful ministry unblemished by great scandal. For decades he has maintained a tight focus on teaching the Bible verse by verse and book by book. In 2006 he taught through 1 Timothy 4 and there he saw Paul providing his young protégé with “a rich summary of all of the apostle’s inspired instruction for those who serve the church as ministers, as pastors. And it all begins with the statement, a noble minister, an excellent minister, a good servant of Christ Jesus.” What are the marks of such a man? MacArthur reveals twelve of them.

An excellent minister warns people of error. Paul urges Timothy to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines… rather than furthering the administration and stewardship of God” (verse 3). The same instructions are given two chapters later and in 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and 1 Thessalonians 5. An excellent minister “understands the devastating potential of lies” and instructs his people against teaching and believing them. “When you point out error, you are a noble servant of Christ.”

An excellent minister is a faithful student of Scripture. This is a continual process he gives his life to. “You will spend your whole life mastering one book – one book, the only book that God has inspired which he has placed all of his truth. The Bible becomes the sole content of your ministry, the sole theme of your preaching and it must saturate your mind and your soul. You make a radical commitment to the Bible and to Bible study and to Jesus. That is being lost rapidly in ministry.” That loss is evident in a culture in which the Bible is no longer authoritative. Publishers, pressured to bring Bible sales back up, feel they must “appeal to felt need rather than the revelation of God.” The Bible is not fiction, it is not a book of suggestions, it is the inspired Word of God. “We are to saturate ourselves with the teaching of Scripture, the content, the words of the faith, and the dedoscalia, that which Scripture affirms propositionally.”

An excellent minister avoids the influence of unholy teaching. “Have nothing to do with worldly fables” (verse 10). The word used here is Peritaomi which means to radically separate from what is holy. There are some things so evil that a pastor must not even listen to them. “Many young men who started out in ministry have been ruined, not by learning error as error, but by sitting under someone teaching error as truth. Being seduced with error from someone who believed that the error was true.” An excellent minister separates himself from the “corrupting influence of unholy teachers.”

An excellent minister is disciplined in personal godliness. “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (verse 4b). This implies “strenuous training, self-abnegating, self-dying discipline in the direction of godliness – pulling up the loose ends, girding up the loins of your mind, as Peter would say it, beating your body into submission, lest in preaching to others, you become a documas, disqualified.” All the while the excellent minister needs to keep his conscience clear. Paul was speaking to a culture that like ours, was obsessed with vanity and physical exercise, but “an excellent minister, while responsible for his physical health, is far more consumed with his godliness and the disciplines that produce godliness.”

An excellent minister is committed to hard work. “If a man is willing to pay the price for fatigue and weariness, his ministry will not be mediocre.” Excellent ministry should be exhausting. Paul calls Timothy “to labor and strive “ (verse 10). The word for this is agonidzimi, to agonize in struggle. The gospel is worthy of a minister’s agony for his labor has eternal significance. “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things that are not seen” (2 Corinthians 4:17). MacArthur continues, “There is no more important, no more glorious, no more wondrous work than as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4… adding souls to the heavenly hallelujah chorus so that their voices can redound to the glory of God.”

An excellent minister teaches with authority. Verse 11 says “command and teach these things.” The Bible does not give prescriptions or suggestions, it gives commands. “Authority comes from God through the Scriptures to you when you handle the Scripture accurately, clearly and boldly.”

An excellent minister is a model of spiritual virtue. “Example is the most powerful rhetoric.” Paul commands Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather… show yourself an example of those who believe” (verse 12). MacArthur, reflecting on his first week at his church remembers being introduced in this way: “We don’t know what this young kid is gonna be able to tell us.” How did he overturn this? By living a godly life: “The single greatest support of truth in your preaching is the power of an exemplary life. This is your most reliable weapon. This is what makes everything believable.”

An excellent minister maintains a thoroughly Biblical ministry. Verse 13 is a summation of what a minister is called to do: “Until I come, give attention to the reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” Read, explain, apply, and be consumed with Scripture. “The greats of the past understood their whole life was given comprehensively to the word of God.” MacArthur, when asked by his students the secret to great preaching answers, “keep your rear end in the chair until you finish your work. Come out when you have something to say.”

An excellent minister uses his spiritual gift and employs it. “That is to say he is faithful to the usefulness of that gift, that calling, that ordaining, that setting apart over the long, long haul.” Verse 14 says, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.” The excellent minister knows that the gift he has, given by the Holy Spirit and confirmed in his life, is a gift he has for life: “You’re headed for a long life. And I hope it’s long – very long.”

An excellent minister is passionate regarding his work. The phrase used in verse 15 literally translated means, “in these things be you.” This applies to all life – there is no work/life separation here. “In this you live, move and have your being.” In these things be you.

An excellent minister is manifestly growing spiritually. Already, MacArthur established that the excellent minister’s life must be one of spiritual advancement, but a key word here is “manifestly.” This ought to show! “Let your progress be seen by everybody. People can live with that. They can love someone like that. They need to see your weakness. They’ll embrace you for it. They’ll love you for it. And they’ll know you understand their weakness.”

Finally, an excellent minister perseveres in ministry. All eleven elements thrive on this. Here, MacArthur reflects on 37 years of ministry: “I’ve seen 37 years of the work of the word in his church and what a joy, what an unspeakable benediction to my life. And when you do all these things, you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

This is what an excellent pastor does. and the solemn commitments he must make. In closing, MacArthur asks, “You want results? Those are the best results you’re gonna get. Heaven—that is the greatest result.”

Find the original article here.

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Reblog: 15 Things That Happen When You Fall In Love With Your Life Instead Of A Person

by Marisa Donnelly

1. You discover what you’re wildly passionate about, and you make time for those things.

Love is beautiful, but it isn’t everything. There are so many other things to be passionate about besides a person—art, photography, music, writing, literature, sports, exercising, work—to just name a few. When you start falling in love with your life, as opposed to investing all your time and energy into a relationship, you find time for the things that light a fire within you, the things that inspire and fuel you. And your life becomes more satisfying and complete as you focus on those things rather than romance.

2. You become more in-tune with your wants and needs.

Falling in love with your life means learning what you love, what you desire, and what you need. It means focusing on your goals and how you can, and will pursue them. It means discovering what you really want out of relationships, out of yourself, out of your existence on this earth, and creating a well-designed plan for your future.

3. You value the relationships that you do have, instead of focusing on the ones you don’t.

Romantic relationships aren’t the only things that fill your life with love and happiness. When you’re focused on things other than your love life, you invest more time in the people who fill you—your family members, friendships, and other platonic relationships. And you learn the incredible value of those people.

4. You travel, explore, and live selfishly.

When you fall in love with your life, you want to squeeze every minute dry. You want to travel to new places, try new foods, explore, and live how you want. This isn’t wrong. Falling in love with your life means taking advantage of what you have and chasing after the things you want. It means doing, going, and truly living.

5. You shift your focus to other important pieces of life.

When you’re not focused on a relationship, you take and make more time for other things—your career, hobbies, future, finances, etc. Your priorities shift in healthy ways and you learn to ground yourself rather than letting a relationship ground you.

6. You spend more time doing things, rather than wishing for things to happen.

Falling in love with your life means that you don’t like to waste time. You don’t like to chase things that don’t build or grow you. You don’t like to live a mediocre, uninspired existence. When you love your life you do things, rather than being a passive character in your own story.

7. You value advice from others, and take time to lend a listening ear.

You want to learn, to experience, to grow, to be inspired. Thus, you value the advice and guidance given to you from others and you’re more willing to be a support system for people who may need you.

8. You take more time to appreciate the little things.

Suddenly, little things like the sunset or a dog curling up next to you on the couch carry meaning. These little things that you so often overlooked are a central focus, and integral part of the wonderful, meaningful life you’re living now.

9. You are continually striving for better.

You pursue a life that supports your dreams, goals, and purpose. You appreciate where you are, but are never satisfied. You want to achieve more, be more, and live even more authentically. You love who you have the potential to be, and are continually trying to build and develop that person.

10. You spend more of your days outside or in nature.

The world around you has more value now. You enjoy hiking, walking, biking, or just sitting outside in the shade. You love just being—around friends or solo, just soaking in the beauty the world has to offer.

11. You feel fulfilled by the memories, experiences, and relationships you have in your day-to-day existence.

When you fall in love with your life, you aren’t looking for a romantic relationship to make you feel whole. You feel complete because of people around you, the experiences you’ve had/are having, and the memories you are continually making. Your happiness isn’t dependent upon a significant other, rather all the tiny, wonderful things that give you meaning and purpose.

12. You pray often, and feel both humble and thankful for what you’ve been given.

Every day, life surprises you with its beauty and wonder. You find yourself praying for the blessings you’ve been given, and relying on your faith to pull you through the hard times. You trust that you will find love when the timing is right; in the meantime, you are thankful and humble for where you are.

13. You no longer feel sad about not being in a relationship; your happiness is invested in, and dependent upon other things.

Your ‘single’ relationship status is no longer a burden or a negative label. You have come to terms with where you’re at romantically, and aren’t looking for a lover to fill a hole in your heart. Instead, your happiness is dependent on your experiences, your passions, your other relationships, and yourself.

14. You find yourself in awe of all that you’ve been through, and of the person you’re still becoming.

When you fall in love with your life rather than a person, you start to value yourself and what you’ve overcome. You start to see your purpose, and how events in your life have shaped or changed you. You find yourself in awe of how you’ve grown, and excited for who you will become.

15. You have learned the slow, beautiful, complicated, rollercoaster ride of loving yourself.

You still have days when you struggle to love yourself, but because your life has shifted from loving someone to loving your existence, you’ve learned to value your own heart and mind. You’ve learned that it’s okay to put yourself first, healthy even. You’ve learned that you are the only one who can determine your happiness. And you’ve learned that when you love your life, love will come when it’s meant to.

Find the original post here.

 

Reblog: 10 Ways to Practice Normal Evangelism

by Juan Sanchez

Many of us find evangelism daunting, even frightening. However, evangelism should take place as we naturally converse with people. As we have normal conversations, we are to look for opportunities to speak to people about Christ. In a normal evangelism culture, we will pray together for the unbelieving, and we will celebrate gospel conversations, not just “deals closed.”

Here are 10 practices of normal evangelism.

  1. Know the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Four words provide an outline for the gospel: God, man, Christ, response. When we understand the gospel, we know that GOD is holy and created a world without sin. God provided mankind with all he needed to dwell in his presence. But, MAN rebelled against God, and rebellion requires judgment, the penalty of which is death. Yet, God in his grace, provided CHRIST as a representative substitute to live a life of perfect obedience and to receive upon himself the penalty of sin on our behalf. Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, proving his victory over sin and death. Now, all who RESPOND with repentance from sin and faith in Jesus have eternal life. This is the good news that we must know in order to share it with others.
  1. Live your life in light of this gospel. As this gospel takes root in our own lives and we begin to apply it to our marriages, parenting, relationships, and lives together as a church, then our lives will be markedly different than the world and thereby attractive. How can we announce that this gospel is the power of God to save and change lives if we who profess Christ continue living just like the world?
  1. Pray and fast for unbelievers (John 14:12-14; 15:7-8). One reason unbelieving people are not on our minds is because we don’t pray for them. Make a list of unbelieving people and begin praying for their salvation. But also ask God to open doors for evangelism, then by faith be obedient when the opportunities arise.
  1. Be willing to share your life with unbelievers (1 Thessalonians. 2:1-8). If we are going to reach unbelievers, we need to get to know them: where they live, shop, eat, recreate. Look for opportunities to relate with them where they are, instead of thinking they will come to us. Let us wisely share our lives with unbelievers: talking to them, inviting them to church or into your home for a meal.
  1. Share the gospel with urgency (2 Peter 3:8-10). To be sure, we need to share the gospel naturally & clearly, but we must also share it urgently. Right now is the time for salvation. When a person dies or Christ returns, there will be no more opportunities for repentance and faith.
  1. Study the doctrine of hell. If you lack urgency in evangelism, then study the doctrine of hell. As you consider the fate of those who reject Christ, ask God to break your heart and move you with urgency to share the good news with the lost.
  1. Invite unbelievers to repent and believe. The gospel requires a response. We must call on all people everywhere to repent (turn away from their sinful ways) and believe (in Jesus Christ).
  1. Invite unbelievers to church. Invite the unbelieving, unchurched to come with you on the Lord’s day so that they may hear the gospel proclaimed. Surprisingly, in a 2010 study of unbelieving, unchurched people in Austin, a large number indicated that they would be open to invitations to go to church. Imagine that! They don’t come because we don’t ask.
  1. Trust Christ for the results. Faithfulness, not results is what God requires of us. Salvation is of the Lord, so we must trust the sovereign Lord to do his work in the hearts of unbelieving people. Our responsibility is to faithfully share the gospel indiscriminately.
  1. Share with others and ask them to join you in prayer. I have found it encouraging to hear other Christians’ stories of evangelism. Share your evangelism encounters, celebrate simply sharing the gospel, and pray together for those souls. Let’s make evangelism normal again!

Find the original post here.

Re blog: How to Overcome Feeling Insecure and Needy in Your Relationships

By

Many people feel insecure at least some of the time. Some people feel insecure most of the time about most things. Other people may occasionally feel insecure or only in certain situations or with certain people.

 Explore why you’re feeling insecure.

Sometimes insecurity is the result of trauma. If you’ve experienced a betrayal or hurt such as cheating or lying or abuse in your current or past relationship, it’s normal to want to protect yourself from further hurt. You put up your guard and feel anxious, on edge, or worried. Your nervous system goes into overdrive searching for evidence danger. You might also notice that these feelings of insecurity remind you of childhood wounds. Children tend to internalize harm caused by others and believe it’s their fault – because they’re bad, flawed, unworthy, unlovable. This sets the stage for feeling insecure in adult relationships.

Other times it’s not so easy to spot where insecurity started. You may have a pervasive feeling that you’re not “good enough”. You worry about what people think. You don’t want to disappoint or displease others. You try to live up to someone else’s expectations or standards. Comparison leads to insecurity. It makes you feel “less than” compared to others that seem prettier, thinner, smarter, stronger, or funnier.

Love and acceptance from others does not solve insecurity.

Most people think the solution to insecurity is having others love and accept them. It isn’t. I remember a painful experience I had in middle school. I had a great group of friends, felt accepted, cared for and wanted…until they rejected me. Friends and lovers will come and go. Sometimes they drift away. Sometimes they storm off after an intense fight. Sometimes they die. If you’re counting on others to make you feel secure, you will eventually be disappointed.

When people feel insecure in a relationship, they often turn to their partners seeking reassurance and validation. A partner can never provide the sense of security you’re seeking. Relationships are always uncertain. There are no guarantees that your partner will be dependable or faithful or with you for the rest of your life. The only way to feel secure in your relationship is to seek security and confidence within yourself.

Security comes from loving yourself and knowing you’re resilient.

Feeling safe and secure means that you know you can cope with whatever life throws your way. You can’t control what your partner does or if this relationship ends, but you can control your response and your feelings. It’s empowering to know that you can cope with the unexpected and messy parts of life. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be hurt or angry or heart broken. It just means that you have confidence in your ability to get through really tough situations and feelings.

Chances are you’ve already gotten through some pretty challenging things in your life. When I reflect on my own experiences, I’m in awe of some of the things I’ve overcome. I didn’t always do it with grace, but I did get through more pain than I imagined I could. I suspect the same is true for you.

Life experience shows us that we can get through a lot of adversity and uncertainty. You can not only survive, but thrive when you choose not to let life’s curve balls keep you down or feeling like a victim. This is where confidence comes from. It doesn’t come from reassuring words or promises from your partner.

Instead of seeking validation from others, reassure yourself.

Look inside yourself for the validation you’re seeking. Honestly, your partner can’t give you want you can’t give to yourself. Your partner might say the words you crave: “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine my life without you.” The problem is, if you don’t believe this to be true deep in your soul, you’re not going to believe it when someone else says it to you.  If you want others to make you feel worthy, you’ll always be chasing this approval. Instead,

  • Tune into your own feelings. Spend some quality time with yourself.
  • Identify your feelings. A list of feeling words can be helpful (try this one).
  • Validate your own feelings. “It’s normal to feel angry when my roommate drinks all the coffee and doesn’t buy any to replace it.” Or, “I understand why you feel anxious when Mary comes home from work late”.
  • Identify your strengths. Everyone has some good qualities. Remind yourself of your positive traits and skills every single day. I promise you won’t become conceded.
  • When you catch yourself worrying about what might happen, gently bring yourself back to the present. You can ask yourself: How likely is this to happen? Is there anything I can do about it?
  • Remind yourself that you can cope with whatever happens.
  • Soothe yourself. Recognize when you need comfort and give it to yourself. You can calm yourself by listening to music, taking a hot bath, repetitive motion like walking, massaging your temples, sipping a cup of herbal tea, or using essential oils.

 

Reblog: 3 Types of Legalism

by RC Sproul

Have you, as a Christian, ever been accused of legalism? That word is often bandied about in the Christian subculture incorrectly. For example, some people might call John a legalist because they view him as narrow-minded. But the term legalism does not refer to narrow-mindedness. In reality, legalism manifests itself in many subtle ways.

Basically, legalism involves abstracting the law of God from its original context. Some people seem to be preoccupied in the Christian life with obeying rules and regulations, and they conceive of Christianity as being a series of do’s and don’ts, cold and deadly set of moral principles. That’s one form of legalism, where one is concerned merely with the keeping of God’s law as an end in itself.

Now, God certainly cares about our following His commandments. Yet there is more to the story that we dare not forget. God gave laws such as the Ten Commandments in the context of the covenant. First, God was gracious. He redeemed His people out of slavery in Egypt and entered into a loving, filial relationship with Israel. Only after that grace-based relationship was established did God begin to define the specific laws that are pleasing to Him. I had a professor in graduate school who said, “The essence of Christian theology is grace, and the essence of Christian ethics is gratitude.” The legalist isolates the law from the God who gave the law. He is not so much seeking to obey God or honor Christ as he is to obey rules that are devoid of any personal relationship.

Read the rest here.

Reblog: The Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer

by Melissa

When I was younger, I prayed a lot. I would set aside a chunk of time in my day, usually in the evening, and I would get out my list or my notebook, and I would speak long and sincere prayers for my friends and family, for missionaries, ministers, strangers, and world leaders. I would sometimes kneel beside my bed and cry out to God for hurting people. I would always make good on my promise to pray for others when they asked me to. And, at times I would keep detailed notes of what I prayed about and, later, how God had answered my prayers.

Times have changed.

Read the rest here.

Reblog: The Heart of Hospitality

by Christina Fox

A friend recently thanked me for the hospitality I had extended to him and his family over the years. Feeling uncomfortable with the compliment, I responded, “Actually, it’s my husband you need to thank. I learned it from him.” I think my comment surprised him. Perhaps because it seemed as though I’ve always had a heart for hospitality.

The truth is, for a long time hospitality was hard for me. I often thought that hospitality was something you only did when you were prepared and had all your ducks in a row. I thought that my home needed to be a certain size and my cooking skills up to a certain level. And just like Martha in Luke 10, I often stressed over the details of hospitality. I focused on whether there were enough chairs for everyone to sit on, each person’s unique dietary needs were met, and that the living room was spotless and the pillows lined up neatly on couch.

What I’ve learned from watching my husband seek out the lonely and invite them into our home is that biblical hospitality has nothing to do with those things. Rather, the heart of hospitality is about sharing our lives for the sake of others, just as Christ did for us.

Biblical Hospitality

There’s a difference between hospitality we see on the cover of magazines or on interior design shows on television and the hospitality described in Scripture. Biblical hospitality isn’t about details but about the gospel. It isn’t just for those who can bake, but for all of us. It’s not about receiving compliments but about giving to others. It’s about much more than a meal or a comfortable place to lay one’s head. The heart of hospitality is about sharing the greatest treasure we have, Jesus Christ.

Four things to remember about hospitality:

Read the rest here.

Reblog: Why Do We Major in the Minors?

This post goes hand in hand with the last I just posted. To different authors but if you read them both you will see the correlation. ~Beth

from at Ligonier Ministries

The Pharisees distorted the emphasis of biblical righteousness to suit their own behavioral patterns of self-justification. Jesus frequently confronted the Pharisees on this point. Jesus said to them, “You tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23a). On numerous occasions, Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees scrupulously obeyed some points of the law. They paid their tithes, they read their Scriptures, they did a host of things the law required-and Jesus commended them for their actions, saying, “These you ought to have done” (Matt. 23:23b). However, it was the emphasis that was out of kilter. They scrupulously tithed, but in doing so they used their obedience to this lesser matter as a cloak to cover up their refusal to obey the weightier matters of justice and mercy. That distortion occurs today.

It is much more difficult to measure the disposition of our hearts than it is to measure the number of movies we attend

Why do we have a perpetual tendency to major in minors? As Christians, we want to be recognized for our growth in sanctification and for our righteousness. Which is easier to achieve, maturity in showing mercy or in the paying of tithes? To pay my tithes certainly involves a financial sacrifice of sorts, but there is a real sense in which it is cheaper for me to drop my money into the plate than it is for me to invest my life in the pursuit of justice and mercy. We tend to give God the cheapest gifts. Which is easier, to develop the fruit of the Spirit, conquering pride, covetousness, greed, and impatience, or to avoid going to movie theaters or dancing? We also yearn for clearly observable measuring rods of growth. How do we measure our growth in patience or in compassion? It is much more difficult to measure the disposition of our hearts than it is to measure the number of movies we attend.

It is also our inclination as fallen creatures to rate as most important those virtues in which we have achieved a relative degree of success. Naturally, I would like to think that my moral strong points are the important ones and my moral weaknesses are limited to minor matters. It is a short step from this natural inclination to a widespread distortion of God’s emphases.

 

Reblog: The Family Idols

From: FEEDING ON CHRIST

One of the more important aspects of the book of Genesis is the way in which the Holy Spirit lays bare the inner motives and desires that drive the actions of the members of the patriarchal family. The cameos of the men and women of the covenant family set out, in stark contrast, the antithesis between living life in the flesh and living life in the Spirit, by human effort or by divine promise–by works or by faith. In short, we find, in the patriarchal narratives, the seemingly insatiable quest for safety and satisfaction–interestingly, the very things that God graciously pledged to give Abraham by faith in the coming Christ (Gen. 15:1).

In the patriarchal family we see the father of the faithful handing his wife off to a powerful king (twice!) in order to gain security (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:2). We find him taking his wife’s handmaiden to himself in order to attempt to gain, by human effort, the satisfaction promised by the Covenant God (Gen. 16). We find this same principle at work in the life of his son, Isaac, when he also lied about his wife to protect himself (Gen. 26:7); and again when he chose to show partiality to Esau–the son of Isaac’s flesh who seemed to embody what he wished were true of himself (Gen. 25:28). Additionally, we see it in Jacob seeking to gain the birthright by con-artistry and deception (Gen. 25:29-34; 27:1-29)–another attempt to work for the blessing of God.

While all of these acts are meant to draw our attention to the fact that the promises of God can only be received by faith in the Redeemer, they also warn us about the heart-idolatry that manifested itself in the lives of the patriarchs…even as it often does in our own lives. The essence of this idolatry was seen in the members of the covenant family seeking to find protection and fulfillment in themselves or in their closest of relations rather than in the living God of promise.

This family idolatry is preeminently seen in Leah seeking to win the love of her husband by having children for him and in her sister, Rachel, putting herself in competition with her in order to find satisfaction and fulfillment in bearing children (Gen. 30:1).

In his excellent book on the lives of Isaac and Jacob, Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace, Iain Duguid draws out of the Rachel-Leah saga the fact that idolatry lay at the heart of both women’s race to have children. He writes:

“This is the essence of idolatry: someone or something other than the living God is occupying the God-shaped space at the core of our being. We were created as worshiping beings, people whose meaning and purpose cannot be derived from ourselves but must come from outside us. There is always someone or something other than ourselves on which we have hung our whole identity or self-worth. If we turn our backs on the true God, we inevitably attempt to fill that void with something else. Whatever we must have instead of, or as well as, the God of the Bible, if life is to have meaning for us—that is our idol. For you, it may be health, comfort, wealth, control, the affection of a particular individual, or any of a thousand and one things. Whatever it is, it is an idol. Idols, however, ultimately never satisfy. In reality, a deep relationship with God and God alone is all we need to possess life in all its fullness (see Ps. 27:4–5).”1

This serves as a warning for those of us in the church today. We, no different than they, have hearts that are conditioned and bent toward giving our time, energy and affection to created things and persons–even to those who are our closest of relatives in the home–rather than to the living and true God. The perniciousness of this idolatry is seen in the fact that we can even make idols of our spouse or children in the name of being a good husband or wife, father or mother–all the while justifying our idolatry as if we are doing it as unto the Lord. Throughout the Genesis narrative, the men and women of the patriarchal home are constantly appealing to the name of the God of the covenant while acting with sinful and idolatrous motives (Gen. 27:20; 30:6; 30:13).

Read the rest here.

Re Blog: 3 Neglected Objects of Stewardship

by FORWARD>>PROGRESS

hen we think about stewardship, we think primarily about money. That’s a good and right thing, because when we think and talk about money, we are patterning our messages after those of Jesus. When you look back to the recorded teachings of Jesus in Scripture, you find a surprising number of references to the subject of personal finance. That’s not because Jesus wants our money; it’s certainly not because He needs our money. It’s because Jesus is after our hearts, and He knows that the clearest window into what we truly love, desire and pursue is visible through our bank statements.

Think about it – Jesus could have set up anything as the primary competitor to God in our lives. He could have easily said something like, “You cannot serve both God and power,” or “You cannot serve both God and sex,” but instead He chose money: “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (Matthew 6:24).

Money matters, because the heart matters. So it’s good and right for us to think about stewardship in terms of money. At the same time, stewardship is not exclusively about money. Instead, it’s a holistic view of God as the owner, and we as His servants who have been entrusted with all kinds of resources, each of which provides an opportunity for the sake of the kingdom of God. So while we should think deeply about the money God has seen fit to flow into our lives, our view of stewardship cannot stop there. It’s got to be bigger.

In light of that, here are three neglected objects of stewardship for you to think about today:

1. Your home.

Hospitality was one of the hallmarks of the early church. These fledgling believers were marked by generosity not only in their money, but in the opening up of their homes to others, welcoming them in. Paul listed hospitality in his practical exhortations of gospel-rooted living (Rom. 12:9-13) and went on to say that hospitality is one of the characteristics that must be present in church leaders (1 Tim. 3:2). Our homes are a resource, and we should be joyfully generous with them. That can mean things like hosting a small group, but in a broader sense, it means asking the simple question of why God has given you the home you have in the neighborhood you have around the people who live there. If He has done so intentionally, the home is a resource that should be made much of.

Furthermore, when we practice stewardship through hospitality, we mirror the gospel. The word itself, hospitality, comes from a combination of Greek words – the word for “love” and the word for “stranger.” When we invite others in hospitably, we are loving the stranger, which is exactly what God has done for us. When we were enemies and rebels, strangers to the faith, God invited us into His home as His sons and daughters.

Read the rest here.

 

Re Blog: I went to a strip club

strip-club

From: JUST A JESUS FOLLOWER

A while back I was asked by a group of pastor’s wives to go with them to strip clubs.

That sentence alone sounds strange. But hang with me.

At first I was a little hesitant. And not for reasons you might think.

I love people. Especially ones who are broken; it’s part of my calling. But, given what I’ve walked through, I know how fragile broken people can be.

And I know how insensitive the church can be.

And I was uneasy.

But, these weren’t just any pastors wives.

They had a vision.

One that longed to love on women that society had thrown aside.

It reminded me a lot of Jesus.

So, I jumped on it.

Their plan was to visit these clubs once a month to deliver a meal and gift baskets. I joined them the first night and I’ll be honest, I had NO IDEA what to expect.

Now, I had my fair share of time (back in the day) in bars and such, but I’d never been to a strip club. I was totally unaware of what I was walking into.

We arrived and the bouncer ushered us back into the dressing room where we introduced ourselves and began distributing the gifts and food.

I was shocked by what I saw.

Read the rest here.

 

Reblog: Young Men- Is this You?

young man walkingYoung Men — Is This You?
by Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Need” is a strong word. But I use it intentionally and I use it passionately. Yes, I use it urgently. Our culture desperately needs men. Not boys! We have plenty of boys. The church needs men, real men, godly men, holy men, biblical men. As a minister of the gospel, as a student of Scripture, as a biblical counselor, and as a man after God’s own heart, I will list 8 traits that should characterize men. So — young men: is this you?

Young men — you need…

1) Truth — Jesus described Himself as being “the Truth.” God is the God of truth and truthfulness. You are made by Him and designed to emulate Him. Speak truth in your heart and have no fear of what you’ll say. Fill your mind and heart with truthful things and flee from deceptive, hidden, devious, manipulative ways. Young men, at all costs, be men of truth!

2) Integrity — The biblical concept of integrity speaks of wholeness, blamelessness. That is, to live a life of integrity demands a person who refuses double-mindedness and double-living. What you say you’ll do, do it at all costs. Be faithful, true to your word, and honest in all things.

3) Gentleness — The boldest and manliest person to ever walk this world was God in human flesh. And this Lord Jesus Christ was full of gentleness. Be strong! Be courageous! Be self-controlled and be sober-minded. Control your heart, mind, words, and actions. Be gentle!

4) Convictions — Be willing to die for things! These are your convictions. Men hold opinions but convictions hold the man. Believe God, His Word, the gospel and in the eternality of the soul, and live and die for Him. Shape your convictions by Scripture and stand up for them.

5) Perseverance — When life thrashes you against the rocks remember one thing: when suffering comes it comes because God wants you there. God grows His people as they endure hardships. Don’t despise the clouds that God brings. The Sun of Righteousness grows you in it.

6) Punctuality — Young men have this tragic reputation of being late (and lazy). And shamefully, it’s often true. Manhood demands responsibility. Rise early. Prepare your body and heart. Warm your soul with Christ each day. Leave early. Arrive early. Pray, prepare, be punctual. To arrive 5 minutes early is to arrive on time. Remember that.

7) Submission — Never be to prideful to submit. Godly men submit. Christ Himself — God come in the flesh — submitted Himself constantly and perfectly to the will of His Father. Submit to your parents. Submit to your authorities. Submit to the police. Submit to your church shepherd-elders. Find joy in obeying Christ in worshipful submission.

8) Discipline — Own your body. Don’t be mastered by it. You need to discipline yourself. No one wins a gold metal by coasting. No one wins the race with laziness. Discipline your soul, your mind, your body. Engage daily with Christ. Pray humbly before Him. Speak much of Him. Ponder His beauties. Discipline yourself, O man.

read the original post here.

Reblog: 25 Quick Tips and Reminders to Help Your Prayer Life

by Gospel Relevance

1. Prayer is not just an invitation, but a command.

2. Not every “impression” and “feeling” and “interrupted thought” during prayer is God speaking to you.

3. Reading books on prayer is great, but they won’t help much if you don’t actually pray.

4. There’s no such thing as an “unanswered prayer.” God answers every prayer with yes, no, or later.

5. Private prayer is not enough. Attend your church’s prayer meeting, prayer with people in your small group, etc.

6. Public prayer is not enough. Pray in private.

7. To start prayer with praise is commendable, but not a pre-requisite. Sometimes, life is too hard, and you can start with tears or screams or whatever is on your heart.

8. Listen to trusted Christian friends when they pray and learn from them.

9. Prayer while driving is helpful, but can be a distraction. Set up a place and time for intimacy.

10. Don’t pray, “Lord, please bless this food as nourishment to my body” if you’re eating pizza and french fries for dinner.

11. Never become so holy that you outgrow your need to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

12. Pray for wisdom – about everything (James 1:5). This will change your life.

13. When people ask you to pray for them, pray for them right then and there, on the spot, if you can.

Find the rest here.